Exercise and fitness have become big business in today’s culture. Because exercise addresses many important aspects of life, we shouldn’t just give it lip service, but take it seriously and become engaged.
I had an opportunity to serve as one of the first members on the Governor’s Committee on Physical Fitness when it was formed in 1966. I learned enough that I wanted to do my best to stay physically fit. I’ve always enjoyed competing in basketball, tennis, racquetball, etc. Physical exercise has been a tremendous asset for me not just physically but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually. (Tweet this)
Today there are a lot of up-to-date studies that verify things that I’ve always believed. Not only does exercise make us feel better, but it can help deter a lot of things that are challenges as we grow older.
New research suggests that strenuous physical activity can slow brain aging by as much as ten years. The Los Angeles Times reported a study of 876 older adults which tracked their physical activity and tested their memory and thinking skills. The study showed that participants’ brain functions were closely tied to how physically active they were. Strenuous exercise such as running and aerobics had the highest scores and lowest risk for memory loss and decline in executive function. Other people engaging in less intense exercise activities such as walking and yoga produced moderate benefits. For people who were sedentary, their brains looked a decade older than the brains of their very active peers.
A good time to start treating your brain well is now. Researchers say that rigorous exercise improves vascular health, increases blood flow to the brain, and keeps the brain healthier into old age.
One of the challenges in today’s culture is Alzheimer’s disease, which has struck 46 million people worldwide. CBSNews.com reports that the National Institutes of Health study found that people who are overweight at age 50 can be more likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease sooner than their healthy weight peers. This research tracked the BMI (body mass index) ratio of weight to height of 142 people who eventually developed Alzheimer’s. They found symptoms of the disease six and a half months earlier for every step up on the BMI chart. The lead author of this study, Madhav Thambiesetty, concluded, “Understanding how risk factors in midlife may accelerate the onset of Alzheimer’s can speed efforts to develop interventions and treatments.”
The journal Cell Metabolism has indicated that physical activity can change your DNA – for the better. Alice Park writing for Time magazine reminds us that “we are stuck with the genes we’ve got, but it turns out you can change the way they behave with consistent exercise.”
A lot of people try to get around the responsibility of exercise. Remember – the Bible says that our body is a temple (I Cor. 6:19). An overweight friend said that he had added a fellowship hall to his temple and was rapidly becoming a megachurch! One patient told his doctor, “I exercise religiously – one push-up and I say ‘Amen!’” Another man reported that his doctor said he and his wife needed more exercise, so he went out and bought himself a set of golf clubs. His neighbor said, “That’s good, and what have you bought for your wife?” He replied, “A lawn mower.” Joey Adams said, “If it weren’t for the fact that the TV set and the refrigerator are so far apart, some of us wouldn’t get any exercise at all.”
Some have tried to find some “logical excuses” for avoiding exercising by saying – “A whale swims all day, only eats fish, drinks water, but is still fat.” “A rabbit runs and hops and only lives 15 years, while a tortoise doesn’t run and does mostly nothing, yet it lives for 150 years.” “Did you say ‘extra fries . . . or exercise?’”
Instead of putting off or finding excuses, begin exercising today! Treat your brain, body and soul to a more healthy future. Don’t forget to exercise daily your spiritual life. “Physical exercise has some value, but godliness is valuable in every way. It holds promise for the present life and for the life to come” (I Tim. 4:8).